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It was just before 9pm Tuesday that the driver of a 93 Cadillac was dropping off a couple of friends at their boat at the South Beach marina when they all started smelling smoke. The driver thought it might be his power steering pump. And it turned out to be exactly that.
As they approached the marina the smoke got really bad and so the driver pulled into a parking spot by Rogue’s House of Spirits right off Marine Science Drive. They all got out just as the flames started to really take off. And they did – burning so bright that the driver thought a car next to it might be ignited or the sparks drifting up with the smoke might catch the House of Spirits on fire. He quickly got on the phone to 9-1-1 to summon the fire department.
Firefighters crossing over the Yaquina Bay Bridge said they saw a tall plume of very black smoke rising from a parking lot out in the distance. They pulled up and quickly knocked the majority of the fire down. But under the hook the blaze was still flaming away. They used a steel cutting saw to rip their way through the hood to access flames which by then had burned their way into the car’s dashboard area.
Eventually firefighters got the hood open and they drowned what was left of the fire.
No injuries. The driver said he’d been periodically filling his power steering pump with fluid but apparently it got low again on him. The heat that a pump like that can generate, when it’s low on fluid, is considerable. Once the wiring and the oil on the engine, along with the plastics and other flammables were burning under the hood, it was all over except for calling the fire department.
Assistant Fire Chief Rob Murphy said power steering pumps that leak are nothing to play with. He says if you’ve got a pump that’s leaking, get it fixed. He said you can see the power it has to start quite a fire.
The Cadillac was a total loss.